Essential obstetric care is promoted as the prime strategy to save women's lives in developing countries. We measured the effect of improving lifesaving skills (LSS) capacity in Vietnam, a country in which most women deliver in health facilities. A quasi-experimental study was implemented to assess the impact of LSS training and readiness (availability of essential obstetric equipment, supplies, and medication) on the diagnosis of life-threatening obstetric conditions and appropriate management of labor and birth. The intervention (LSS training and readiness) was provided to all clinics and hospitals from 1 of 3 demographically similar districts in southcentral Vietnam, to hospitals only in another district, with the third district serving as the comparison group. Detection of life-threatening obstetric conditions increased in both experimental clinics and hospitals, but the intervention only improved the management of these conditions in hospitals. Management of life-threatening obstetric conditions is most effective in hospitals. The intervention did not clearly benefit women delivering in clinics.